Australian Languages: Their Nature and Development by R. M. W. Dixon

By R. M. W. Dixon

Aboriginal humans were in Australia for a minimum of 40,000 years, talking approximately 250 languages. via exam of released and unpublished fabrics on all the person languages, Dixon surveys the ways that the languages range typologically and provides a profile of this customary linguistic zone. The areal distribution of such a lot good points is illustrated with greater than 30 maps and an index of languages and language teams is supplied.

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Language and dialect names are spelled in a variety of ways in the literature. 1), but in some cases I have instead used a spelling that is well established in the literature. ) Some of the names for groups are taken over from the recent literature; for example, WL, Arandic, and WJb, Yapa. Others have been made up. The lexicostatistic classification often uses the term for ‘man’ but in many cases the form used is found in only some of the languages of the group to which it is applied. For instance, subgroup WJa was labelled ‘Ngumpin’, although this form is only found in one of the four languages in the subgroup (WJa3, Gurindji); I have avoided such inappropriate labels.

3); and the cutting of cicatrices in some other areas. At this time they also underwent a lengthy period of instruction in traditional wisdom. A few groups had a special ‘initiation language’, which was taught to boys at that time and could only be used among initiated men. 4). Each tribe also had a number of song styles with distinctive musical format, accompaniment, scansion, subject-matter, and social role. 4). Every Australian tribe appears to have had more-or-less stable relationships with its neighbours.

There would be regular trade of manufactured items; and periodic meetings between neighbouring groups to settle disputes by controlled bouts of fighting, to arrange marriages, and to exchange new songs and news. There could be varying degrees of hostility (with resulting fear) and some killings between neighbouring groups, but there are few reports of uncontrolled war and massacre (such as commonly occur in every other continent) in Aboriginal Australia. A spouse would generally be taken from another group of the same tribe but sometimes from a neighbouring tribe – in the latter case, an exchange marriage in the opposite direction would often also be organised (man for woman, woman for man).

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